NHL Buzz: Matthews will return for Maple Leafs against Panthers

NHL Buzz: Matthews will return for Maple Leafs against Panthers

Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will bring you the latest news.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews will return to the Toronto Maple Leafs roster when they visit the Florida Panthers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SNO, SNW, SNP, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The center will replace Jason Spezza after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. He leads the NHL with 58 goals and is two away from becoming the NHL’s first player since Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011-12 to score 60 in one season.

“It’s been a bit difficult trying to get over that,” Matthews said on Saturday. “I feel comfortable coming back tonight. These are important games for us to come, so it’s exciting.

“I think you can always take the positive and the negative. Obviously I don’t like not playing. It’s never fun to sit around, never fun to watch games when you wish you could be there. But you have to take the good with the bad and I hope that bit of rest is beneficial. Obviously, I would much rather play.”

The Maple Leafs (51-21-6) are second in the Atlantic Division, six points ahead of the Lightning, after playing one more game. Toronto plays Sunday against the Washington Capitals.

“We’re just focused on today,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “[Matthews] feels really good today. We talked about the fact that we are playing again tomorrow. He could take the day (off), but he really wanted to play tonight. He feels ready. He skated yesterday, didn’t want to bother skating this morning, he feels he’s ready to go. »

Jake Muzzin remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury, but Keefe said the defender could return to action on Sunday. –Alain Poupart

New York Rangers

Andrew Copp and Philippe Chytil did not practice Friday and are day to day.

Neither forward is expected to play when the Rangers visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN360, NHL LIVE).
Copp suffered a lower-body injury in the Rangers’ 6-3 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday. He had a natural hat trick in the first period before being injured in the third. He did not play in the final 8:05 of the game.

Chytil suffered an upper body injury against the Islanders. He played 13:01 and did not score a point, his fourth game after missing two through injury.

Copp has scored an NHL career-high 21 goals and 53 points in 71 games this season, including 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 15 games since being acquired by the Rangers in a trade from the Jets. Winnipeg on March 21.

Chytil has 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 64 games this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Jeff Carter will play when the Penguins visit the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, BSDETX, ATTSN-PT, NHL LIVE).

The forward was a full participant in practice on Friday after leaving the team late in the third period of a 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday with a lower-body injury. Carter moved from the center of the second line to the same position on the third line.

Yevgeny Malkin will return on Saturday from his four-game suspension for cross-checking the Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki April 10. He was a second-row center in training with the left wing Evan Rodrigues and right wing Bryan Rust.

Sidney Crosby remained the center on the first line and Teddy Bleuger center the fourth line.

“We haven’t had the appearance of our four center ice players in the roster very often this year,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “To have these guys in the middle, we think we have a strong center with those four crosses that we can roll on the boards.”

Rodrigues replaced jason zucker, who did not train due to a non-COVID-19 illness after scoring a goal on Thursday. Zucker traveled to Detroit. –Wes Croby

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